Vertical Farming: Can Sunlight Be Sustainably Replaced?

by Natalie Knops

An emerging trend in agriculture, vertical farming, has been developing across the United States. Vertical farms, a new form of green urban architecture, are controlled, indoor environments that regulate lighting, nutrients and weather. These farms are typically set up in hydroponic towers that often inhabit urban buildings (Frazier, 2017). Many are optimistic about the benefits of this practice: fast production, minimization of land use, water conservation, minimization of fertilizer/agricultural run-off, and most significantly – the drastic reduction of transport emissions. Although the concept of vertical farming is increasing in popularity, some are skeptical about the drawbacks of this method due to the fact that retro-fitting buildings for indoor plant cultivation is capital-intensive and energy costs run high. Vertical farming requires specialized LED lights that generate photosynthesis. Continue reading

The Syrian Civil War: A Result of Climate Change

by Chloe Rodman

Kelley et al. (2015) writing in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences linked the Syrian Civil War to climate change. The Fertile Crescent, more specifically Syria, has experienced a severe prolonged drought since 2006. In a country dominated by agriculture, the drought killed enormous amounts of livestock and crops. To make matters worse, before this dry spell began, former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad implemented policies to increase agricultural production, despite a shortage in water. These policies made Syria particularly defenseless when the drought began. Continue reading

Climate-Smart Agriculture and Biophysical Consequences in the Midwest

by Ali Siddiqui

Climate-smart agricultural techniques are agronomical practices that help alleviate the consequences that climate change has on agriculture. Agronomical practices are related to soil management and production of field crops. Currently, in the Midwestern US different climate-smart techniques have been advocated in order to increase crop production. These include utilizing different crop cultivars in order to reap the benefits of earlier planting dates and a longer growing season and no-till agriculture in order to reduce soil emissions and maintain soil moisture. Bagley, Miller, and Bernacchi (2015) using observational data and an agroecosystem model that uses future temperature and CO2 concentrations determine the effectiveness of climate-smart techniques and their biophysical impacts. Continue reading

Dams and Agriculture in Idaho

by Adin Bonapart

Water storage and distribution infrastructure (dams) allow large areas of land that wouldn’t otherwise have access to water (i.e. away from riparian areas) to be farmed and settled. Furthermore, dams give farmers security against variations in climatic conditions and water supply (i.e. droughts), ­­­which, allows farmers to grow higher-valued, more water intensive crops. Hansen et al. (2014) find that the presence of dams has a “small, positive, but non-significant effect” on farmland values. For these reasons, the construction of dams tends to lead to improved crop yields and planted acreage. Continue reading